Bird communities in oak woodlands of Southcentral Washington
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This study was initiated because there was a perception that oak woodlands are unique habitats for birds, particularly Neotropical migrants. The objectives of this study were to determine the species composition and relative abundance of bird populations in oak [Quercus] and oak-conifer woodlands; and to evaluate the importance of these habitats to nesting birds. This study was undertaken near the northern limit of the Garry oak (Q. garryana) habitat in North America. The study design consisted of three replicates each of five upland habitats (large pine-large oak, small pine-small oak, large Douglas fir-large oak, mostly pure large oak, and mostly pure small oak) and three riparian habitats (White Salmon River, Klickitat River and areas near Goldendale) in Washington, USA. Seventy-two bird species (53 Neotropical migrants and 19 permanent residents) were found at least twice on the 18 study sites. There were no significant differences in species richness among upland habitats. An average of 12 neotropical migrant species were detected per study site in both upland and riparian areas. Neotropical species comprised 62% of all birds detected. Bird abundance was highest in study sites with large amounts of small oak and small pine; it was lowest in riparian study sites. The most abundant species was the Nashville warbler (Vermivora ruficapilla). Bird species composition in the Washington Garry oak habitat was different from those previously reported from Oregon and California.